Here at Bolsover Cruise Club, we pride ourselves on being the most knowledgeable agent in the industry and there is no better way to get to know a ship, than to step on board and find out first hand. Cruise consultant Sally was lucky enough to be invited aboard sailing ship Star Flyer, for three days of finding out everything Star Clippers has to offer. Her feedback was so good, that we thought we had better share it with you.
Have your ever considered cruising beneath billowed sails? We think you just might after reading this.
Fine First Impressions
We embarked Star Flyer in Cannes and as soon as we dropped onto the coastal road in the resort, you could see the ship in the distance. It just looked beautiful with the tall masts and continued to look equally impressive against the backdrop of every port we visited. Tall ships look incredible from port with their sails down, so I can only imagine how amazing they look once the sails are raised and the ship is in open water.
There is a really special atmosphere on board, which is quite difficult to explain. The sail aways are quite something; there is no DJ or entertainment team, just dramatic music billowing through the speakers as the ship’s sails are slowly raised – a definite goose bumps moment.
My home during my time aboard was a category 3 outside cabin on the lower deck and I was pleasantly surprised by its size. I had expected the cabins to be smaller on board a sailing ship, but my fixed double on board Star Flyer was larger than the average outside cabin I have stayed in on most other cruise ships.
The port hole in my cabin was at sea level and when moving at a decent speed, you could see the waves coming above the port hole and hear the water sloshing around the outside of the ship.
The Great Outdoors
One of the first things that struck me was that almost all of the ship’s public areas are out on deck, with the exception of an indoor bar with a piano and also a small library area. The main bar is located in a covered area on deck and the open decks are an amazing spot to enjoy a drink and take in the scenery of the Caribbean. There are plenty of sun loungers and lots of deck space; the ship never feels at all crowded.
Something else that struck me was just how traditional the ship really is. I think it is easy to believe that the ship will be a more luxurious take on a sailing vessel, comparable to a private yacht perhaps. In reality, though luxurious, it really is a working tall ship. When you are out on deck, you finally appreciate the kind of ship Star Flyer is. There are ropes all over and you can hear the creak of the ropes as the sails move in the breeze. Many of the crew are there to sail the ship and see to sails and masts. Star Clippers are such a unique product and their uniqueness and charm make them so special.
Laidback Lunches and Easy Evenings
There is just the one dining area aboard Star Flyer, the Clipper Dining Room, and most meals are taken here. Open seating is offered on board so you can dine when and where you like, though many people did choose to eat at the same table each meal. The evening menu has a definite European flavour and the food was all served to a high standard.
Whenever the weather permits, which is often in the Caribbean, lunch is set up as a buffet in the bar area on deck. It is beautifully presented, tasty and with plenty of choice. Breakfast is also served as a buffet and offers a great range of choice.
A Slower Pace
The way of life on board Star Flyer is very relaxed; there is very little formality and everything is just ‘easy’. The ship holds 170 passengers and there were 125 people on our particular sailing, but there was no rushing, no queues and no crowds of people anywhere on board. When you went to the bar, you got served immediately, and when you went to the tender, you would get straight on the next boat. Sunbeds were always available and there was never at queue for the buffet at lunch.
It was just an incredibly relaxed way to see the world. The ratio of crew to guests is 1:2 and that really showed. The crew are so happy and relaxed, and never seem to be rushing, despite their busy days spent sailing the ship.
This was by far the most ‘chilled out’ cruise I have ever been on. Whilst it is undisputable that there are far fewer facilities than those found on board much larger ships, this is part of the Star Clippers charm. This is a cruise experience unlike any other and it is so perfect for anybody who wants to experience something really different, anyone looking to get away from the crowds and anybody with a love for sailing or who appreciates the beauty of tall ships. It is also a really elegant way to experience lesser known, yet very beautiful, ports. The Star Clippers fleet visits places that other ships cannot reach, meaning fewer visits to the more commercial ports and a greater amount of time spent exploring hidden gems.